WIT Press

Defence heritage of the Spanish civil war: preservation of air-raid shelters in Valencia


Free (open access)


Volume 1 (2017), Issue 4



Page Range

624 - 639

Paper DOI



WIT Press


M.T. Broseta Palanca


When addressing historical heritage, the reasons for architecture preservation are rarely questioned. However, reasons must be justified when contemporary war heritage is discussed in our immediate context. In the European countries that suffered most severely from World War II, war remains are preserved as rebuilding elements: once the confrontation has passed, the traces are used to analyse the causes in order to avoid new conflicts in the future. The scientific study and dissemination of war heritage in Spain has become a social commitment, not undertaken by public administrations but by civic proponents who do not want to forget and who work to preserve the culture of peace.

The construction of air-raid shelters during the Spanish Civil War (1936–1939) was an important task carried out by the Passive Defence Committees, demonstrating that civil society organized against the war. because of citizen pressure and studies performed by a few researchers, after many years of neglect or even demolition, some shelters have been completely or partially saved and listed in the mu- nicipal Heritage Catalogue as Local Heritage, which recognizes their undeniable historical value and the need for preservation established by the Cultural Heritage Law.

In regard to the global framework of war heritage preservation, four phases must be conducted: data gathering and listing, the adoption of protection measures, investment in refurbishment and reuse and finally the dissemination of results. This article provides a view of the first two phases implemented on Valencian air-raid shelters, following a research structure that includes the study of war heritage to establish its meaning and value, the understanding of legal documents regarding protection, research into preservation and reuse performance in other scopes, field study and data gathering as well as the proposals for the next phases of protection and reuse.


air-raid shelters, protection, Spanish Civil War, war heritage.